Save Our lead Shot
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News letter – July 2015
The phoenix has risen. The Lead Ammunition Group web site the phoenix has risen from the ashes. The LAG web site had been managed by BASC but after they withdraw their support from the group, the web site was closed down and now it has been reborn. It now has a new web address www.leadammunitiongroup.org.uk .
The new web site has all the previous minutes of the group and has published the minutes of the 13th LAG meeting held on the 26th May 2015, after the resignations of 5 out of 9 members on the LAG , the four remaining members of the group are Dr. James Kirkwood, Universities Federation for Animal Welfare; Prof. Len Levy, Institute of Environment and Health; Dr. Debbie Pain, WWT; Prof. Rhys Green, RSPB and John Swift chairman, ex CEO BASC and Dr. Ruth Cromie of the WWT is now carrying out the Secretariat for the group.
The LAG first met in May 2010 and it was hoped that the report would be finished by 2012. I was told that the LAG was only waiting for the Harris report on people who eat lead shot game from Scotland. The Harris report was based on a phone survey of 200 people who regularly eat lead shot game.
The Harris report was given to the Food Standards Agency who by-passed the LAG and came out with their own recommendation.
FSA Director of Food Safety Dr Alison Gleadle said: “This advice is targeted specifically at the small number of people who eat lead-shot game on a frequent basis. To minimise the risk of lead intake, people who frequently eat lead-shot game, particularly small game, should cut down their consumption. This advice is especially important for vulnerable groups such as toddlers and children, pregnant women and women trying for a baby, as exposure to lead can harm the developing brain and nervous system.”
The LAG minutes recorded the fact the FSA had issued its own advice, to the frustration of the chairman. In my view that should have been the end of the LAG but no, they agreed to carry on regardless.
Minutes of the 7th Lead Ammunition Group meeting – 11 February 2013
3.7. The Chairman admitted to having been frustrated by the FSA’s publication of its own advice on lead in game meat during 2012 as it had been widely viewed as cutting across the LAG process which it had set up. The meeting agreed that this does not affect the Group’s programme.
The work of the LAG continued until May this year when Sir Barney White-Spunner resigned together with four others. BASC could not resign as they where never members of the LAG. They said that they withdraw their support from the group.
Sir Barney White-Spunner said in his resignation letter:
“I have consistently pointed out that I agreed with the first “Evaluation of the Risks to Wildlife” paper, written by Dr Alastair Leake and Dr John Harradine, as did four other members of the group. I did not agree with commissioning a second paper which was also, like the Human Health paper, written by Dr Debbie Pain and Professor Rhys Green. Neither did I agree with the preparation of a so called consensus paper which relied disproportionately on this second paper and which, again, has never actually been agreed by the full group.”
In John Batley’s letter of resignation he points to the fact that the Chairman’s draft report “offers a solution through the phasing out of lead in ammunition which would lead to an eventual ban. For my own part, I firmly believe that the FSA Guidance on the consumption of lead shot game could achieve proportionate and sensible advice without the necessity for such a ban.”
We now know that the Minister, Liz Truss has two reports, one from the members left on the LAG and the other from the shooting organisations that resigned from the LAG.
The lead ban for wildfowling was brought in using a Parliamentary device called a Statutory Instrument or SI. Under the rules of issuing a SI the government has to consult all sides and if there is an agreement the Minister can sign the SI.
In the case of Lead over wetland for wildfowling this agreement was agreed between the WWT and BASC. I was told at the time by a senior civil servant in the wildlife department in Bristol that if BASC had not agreed to the restriction on lead over wetland, they did not have the evidence to get it through parliament as an amendment bill. I believe that if BASC had said ‘NO’ at the time and used there now infamous sound bite “No evidence – No change” there would not have been a ban on lead for wildfowling.
Back to today and the two LAG reports, if the two reports conflict and there is no agreement the Minister under the SI rules would not be allowed to make any further restrictions on the use of lead ammunition using a Statutory Instrument.
To bring in any further restrictions on lead ammunition it would need to be by an amendment bill to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and if they have not got the evidence, any bill would be unlikely to pass the committee stages through Parliament, if such a bill was tabled at all.
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